Learning Center


Build kid-friendly writing rubrics

March 1, 2019

When generating a 6-Traits writing rubric for an upcoming assignment, consider building it with your students. Often teachers make a rubric on their own and then “go over” it with the kids. With this approach, students have very little ownership and may not even understand some of the language within the rubric.

The power of a rubric built with the students is that it’s kid-friendly because it is written using their own words and language. It also tends to make peer and self-assessment much more effective. This concept is reinforced in the February 2012 ASCD Education Update newsletter and based on the Carnegie Corporation of New York research revealed within Informing Writing: The Benefits of Formative Assessment.

Kid-Friendly Writing Rubric: Susan Thomas, Prostman Elementary
6 Traits of Writing Icon Cutouts

Here’s the process for building an analytic 6-Traits rubric with students.

  1. Using the six-traits language previously introduced, start with the description of a well-written product. Work together to list the criteria per trait you want to assess.
  2. Move to the middle column and label it “pretty good.” Be sure to parallel the same ingredients or components between the high and middle levels.
  3. Repeat this process a third time, describing each trait at a “just starting” or low level.
  4. Since rubrics require a minimum of three described levels, stretch the ones you generated to represent Levels 1, 3, and 5.
Writing Rubric

To build a digital rubric, project this Word document that already has the Smekens 6-Traits icons placed.

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